Alcalá View 2005 21.7


Super Grads! Hobnob with USD's shining stars at the Alumni Honors. See page 2.

A newsletter for the employees of the University of San Diego / April 2005 I Vol. 21 , No. 7

Engineering the Impossible Walk on Water Contest Still Going Strong T he rest of the world can use daylight savings time, a red robin or even the Easter bunny as a gauge. At USO, how-

Command Performance N ext time you attend a USO theatre arts performance, take a moment to think about the people backstage. They don't get applause or take bows, but without them, the show wouldn't go on.

students interested in engineering - and USO. With 50 to 60 four-person teams expected to participate and bring along parents and others, the competition is great exposure for the university, and a way to translate theory into practice. When Rose Smith, an industrial systems engineering senior, participated in her freshman year, she says her team's Styrofoam and duct tape shoes worked really well - until they fell apart.

ever, the surest sign spring has arrived is the cheering throng surrounding the Sports Center pool. Those new to the university might be perplexed by all the commotion, especially when they hear it's about people trying to walk on water - with varying degrees of success.

Despite USD's Catholic heritage, the university's annual Walk on Water Competition, which comes up on April 23, is about engineering, not religion. The contest, now in its 14th year, features teams of college and high school engineering students who design and create what they hope will be buoyant shoes made of fiberglass, wood, Styrofoam or other materials. The ultimate test comes when each team's designated "shoe pilot" attempts to traverse the Sports Center pool. The results are educational, and frequently hilarious.

Lori Fiori plays many roles for students, who return the favor here by helping her change costumes. One of the people who keeps the theatre arts program running like a well- rehearsed production is Lori Fiori, the department's executive assistant. If she's not answering calls from students and faculty, working on the budget or tracking student involvement in plays for class credit, then she's probably planning an opening-night reception, drumming up students to volunteer as ushers, preparing work orders for carpenters, arranging royalty contracts or having tickets and publicity posters produced. "If I don't know the answer, I know where to get the answer," she says. Among the continually

Almost any material is fair game for the Walk on Water contest, as long as it floats.

"It helped us understand the engineering design process and build teamwork with other students," says Smith, who now coordinates the event operations. After some hesitation, she gives up a hint about what at least has the potential to be a good entry: fiberglass with flaps for propulsion. But Perry says there are too many variables for that information to give anyone much of (Continued on page 3)

Either way, the USO engineering depart- ment, which sponsors the event, each year suc- ceeds in attracting new fans of the contest - and, they hope, of the discipline. "It's successful if people leave here saying, Wow, engineering is fun. It's not just for dorks,"' says engineering Assistant Professor Leonard Perry, coordinator of this year's contest. Walk on Water evolved from a freshman class assignment into a way to get high school

rotating ad hoc projects on Fiori's plate are helping coor-

dinate the search for a tenure-track assistant professor, (Continued on page 2)

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